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Inspired by Morris at the William Morris Gallery 9th 0f October - 24th December

From: Ben Zanoe
Date: 11 Oct 2010
Time: 05:42:47 -0500


Walthamstow so much to answer for. Is Art wallpaper? These are but a few of the battered old aforisms that crawl out from beneath beautifully woven rugs, stained glass screens and other Morris Traveller related Applied Arts (ap-art), like a scene from one of the better Stephen King stories the William Morris Gallery stands like an oasis marooned in the saragosso of Walthamstows high street detritous, where Venice and the Renaissence vie with knocked down electrical appliances (el-app's), over optimistic estate agents and people who spit at paving stones in order to register their existence in an otherwise feckless world. Alas there was to be no Morris Traveller parked on the galleries gravelly drive and no old bicycle with a basket on the front but everything else is there to remake the English classic midsommer murder episode. The exhibition is openly at war with the permanent displays, not a bad thing, but the animated explosions of establishment blast all hell into the complexities of amateur enthusiasm which as we all know, can be a frail thing,charming and brave but in the end no match for the gung-ho military strategum of a trained colonial. And Morris the Socialist, there's a word I've not seen used in its former context since Big Society replaced daylight robbery, the Murdoch's would call him a champaigne socialist - completely meaningless to todays readers who imagine champagne to be a colour reference from a B&Q chart more worryingly, they wouldn't question how on earth the man came to be such a colour, Is he ill? None seem to care. An oddball aspect of this exhibition arises as one views some of the better work, that is, it seems to be a competition with a winner and everything, not really in the spirit of our dear Morris Dancing socialist. The winning entry combines Morris's wallpaper designs into a drawing of a head (Nicola Jarvis) after which the work tries a more Bankseyist approach (down wid da kids art), more ingenious are the smaller placed objects and work positioned with the Morris originals, better works included a more experimental approach to Morris's chosen media - stained glass owls, large stitched embroidered thistles, charming little string jewellry, a decorated fruit stone, photographs of Crows and newspaper collage, the general outcome is a cross between affectation and curiosity, as in Curio. I understand theres a thriving market in Walthamstow and formerly a dog racing stadium, is it any wonder that we are so infatuated by history? http://www.walthamforest.gov.uk/william-morris